Hotel Capo d'Africa, Rome
Review, history, photos and design of
the four-star hotel
Article added on
May 2, 2007
The Italian capital is full of hotels. Unfortunately,
too many of them are in a poor, run-down state. Hotel Capo d'Africa is one
of the really recommendable four-star hotels, situated in the antique
quarter Capitis Africae in the heart of what later became medieval
The name Caput Africae
stems from the personified image of Rome's African province that adorned the
street of the same name in ancient times. The area housed important
structures providing services for the circus games (Armamentaria,
Saniarum, Spoliarum and Ludus Matutinus), because
the Colosseum is only five walking minutes away. In addition, Capitis Africae housed several barracks built in
the 2nd century AD, including two for the
mounted imperial guard (equites singulars) and one for special
detachments of provincial troops, as well as the headquarters of the 5th
cohort of vigiles.
In Roman times, the Campo d'Africa
was presumably inhabited by Roman citizens from the African provinces as
well as by slaves from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, who had to fight in
the Colosseum. The barracks of the gladiators (Ludi), the Arsenalia
and the Lupanari with the wild animals gave the area a special
The name Colosseum (in Italian Colosseo or Coliseo) was an
invention of the Middle Ages. In Roman times, the greatest amphitheatre
not only of Rome, but of the entire antique world, was known as Amphitheatrum Flavium.
The name Colosseum stems from the 35 meters high colossal statue
depicting the insane, megalomaniacal Emperor Nero, which was put there
in the 2nd century AD, but has not survived. Until the year 403 AD,
gladiators fought and, until 523 AD, animal hunts were organized in the Colosseum, which hosted some 40,000 to 70,000 people, according to
The building of Hotel Capo d'Africa
was erected around 1903 and first served as an orphanage. In the 1960s, it
was transformed into the secondary school of the Celio quarter, which was
built on the hill Monte Celio which was
conquered by the Etruscan Celio Vibenna in the 6th century BC.
Monte Celia was one of the favorite residential areas of the noble Roman
families. Today, the majestic Baths of Caracalla allow a glimpse of its
past splendor. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the
archeological area was created, the district became a delightful expanse
of greenery situated between downtown Rome and the Via Appia, including
the park of Villa Celimontana, gardens, ancient churches and Roman
The hotel architecture and design
Only at the beginning of the current millennium - in the Eternal City of
Rome you can count in this dimension - the building was transformed into a
hotel. The renovation has been carried out by the Roman company Appalti
and the English interior designer Harry Gregory of Ara
Design, who already worked together in Rome on
dei Mellini and
Visconti Palace Hotel.
Hotel Capo d'Africa offers up-to-date comfort in a cosmopolitan, “classic contemporary” look.
Among the period features retained by the renovation is the original
The 64 double rooms on three floors vary both in size and in layout. The
furniture was designed by ARA Design specially for Hotel Capo d'Africa.
It is made from a light blondwood that complements the light and airy
color scheme and the soft furnishings. The colors range from sandy beige
to light green and ochre with more shots of color provided by the throw
cushions on the bed. The carpet picks up the light colors of the
fabrics. The beige leitmotif reappears in the bathroom marble,
interrupted by the vanitory top of black granite. The halogen lighting
system was custom-made for Hotel Capo d'Africa.
Contemporary artworks depicting areas of Rome were exclusively produced
for the hotel by Italian artists and include the serial works Il giorno
and La notte by
Mariano Rossano, a native Roman.
The high head ends of the beds as well as the working tables are in
beechwood. The night tables are a combination of wood and frost glass.
The chairs are covered by red leather. The bathrooms come without tiles.
Instead, a sandy paint was used which makes the linear, early 20th
century stucco and the contemporary sink in light grey marble
Hotel Capo d'Africa also offers an elegant studio suite with a large
terrace overlooking the apse of the church of SS. Quattro Coronati,
which was built in the 4th century to commemorate four martyred Christian soldiers
and is known for its delightful cloister and the chapel of San Silvestro
with medieval frescos illustrating the conversion of Constantine.The Chiesa Santi
Quattro Coronati is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
I was lucky to witness a concert in the Basilica delle
Monache Agostiniane behind the hotel. Sixteen sisters, one of them playing the
organ, impressed me. The next day, a bishop was celebrating High Mass.
Unfortunately, he was a terrible speaker.
Back to the hotel:
The public areas have the high ceilings typical for the early 20th
century. Here too, the light beige Botticino marble is used extensively
throughout on the floors, together with contrasting inlay details in black marble. The furniture is contemporary and eclectic, mixing streamlined
seating groups with tight woven wicker tubs chairs in the lounge and
leather upholstered tub chairs in the connected bar.
The reception and the bar are a combination of opaque glass top surface
and black marble with white veining. The lamps in glass and steel are by
Artemide, the chairs and sofas in the lobby with rattan seatings by Antonio Bonacina and the flower arrangements as well as the
creations made of corals and roots on the upper floors are by Dea
Flora. The palette for this public area is light and fresh with colors
including pale mauve, green, beige and a shot of orange used for the
various upholstery items.
The highlight is the splendid, large summer terrace at the top with some 200m2.
The rambler roses, lime, olive and pomegranate trees offer the ideal
setting for breakfast. In winter, ciclamini blossom up here. My favorite
however is the smaller terrace to the other side of the restaurant which
offers a direct view of the nearby Colosseum.
Andrea Aquilanti was inspired by the panorama view from the terrace. Based on
photographs shot up here, he painted large canvases which now ornate the
three conference rooms on the ground floor. They receive natural light
and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Last buy not least, Hotel Capo d'Africa offers a gym in the basement
with Technogym equipment, which keeps the international traveler fit
despite all the pizza and pasta in Rome.
Since 2002, Hotel Capo d'Africa dedicates itself each summer to jazz,
because it is the official residence of the musicians playing at the Open-Air-Festival
Jazz & Image in the nearby Villa Celimontana. Therefore, many famous (mostly
jazz) musicians have already stayed at the hotel. The list includes Cassandra Wilson, Laurie
Anderson, Sarah Jane, Morris,
Holland, Jacques Morelenbaum,
Randy Brecker and Bill Frisell, to mention just a few.
Hotel Capo d'Africa, via Capo d'Africa 54, 00184 Roma, Italia.
The Rose-Wall made from used car tires by the Italian artist Paolo Canevari.
The work greets hotel guests upon their arrival in the lobby. The list
of contemporary Italian artists who contributed works to the hotel
includes also Andrea Aquilanti, Pupino Samonà, Giancarlo
Limoni, Gianni Dessì, Mariano Rossano and Giuseppe Salvatori.
Photos © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
The Centrum Bar. The special of barkeeper Adolfo Bonucci are the "frozen",
made from fresh fruit. The house drinks are the cocktail Caput Mundi,
made from gin, apricot brandy, Aperol, grapefruit juice, grenadine, and
the long drink
Colosseo, made of rum, Amaretto di Saronno, Campari, Bitter-Lemon
and Orangensaft. Foto © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
The hotel by night. Photos
© Hotel Capo d'Africa, Rome.
View from the hotel penthouse toward the Colosseum.
Photos © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
The studio suite with its private terrace. It is well-appreciated by the
stars of the nearby jazz festival Villa Celimontana. Photo © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
View of a hotel room. Fotos © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
The breakfast room with the terrace in the background.
Photos © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
The hotel gym with machines by Technogym. Foto © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.
Dinner on the terrace. Photo © Hotel Capo d'Africa, Roma.